Michigan Roundtable for Diversity and Inclusion Keynote Address January 30, 2009 john a. powell Executive Director, Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity & Williams Chair In Civil Rights & Civil Liberties, Moritz College Of Law Opportunity for All: Inequity, Linked Fate and Social Justice in Detroit and Michigan
Sad Day For Microsoft: 5,000 Laid Off, Earnings And Revenues Down Cascading layoffs hit workers at Pfizer, Caterpillar, Home Depot; no relief in sight By JEANNINE AVERSA , Associated Press Last update: January 26, 2009
Measures of segregation (i.e. the “dissimilarity index”) have nudged downward a tiny bit but are still high
Outward growth can pull resources away from existing communities
The “favored quarter” has a disproportionate share of high quality opportunity structures
Segregation leads to disparate (racialized) outcomes Lower Educational Outcomes Increased Flight of Affluent Families Neighborhood Segregation School Segregation & Concentrated Poverty
But…what does your neighborhood have to do with your IQ?
Living in “concentrated disadvantage” reduces student IQ by 4 points, roughly the equivalent to missing one year of school
Sampson, Robert et. al., “Durable effects of concentrated disadvantage on verbal ability among African-American Children.” PNAS 105(3): 845-852.
Children growing up in very poor families with low social status experience unhealthy levels of stress hormones, which impair their neural development
In high-poverty communities, children have levels of lead in their blood that are nine times above average. High levels of lead are linked to attention deficit disorder and irreversible loss of cognitive functioning
Sources: Cookson, Clive. “Poverty mars formation of infant brains .” Financial Times.com 2/16/2008. (The biggest negative effects were found on language and memory.) ; Richard L. Canfield, Ph.D., et. al., (April 17, 2003). “Intellectual Impairment in Children with Blood Lead Concentrations below 10 µg per Deciliter.” New England Journal of Medicine . Vol. 348, no. 16: 1517-1526. Joel T. Nigg et. al, “Blood Lead Levels Associated with Clinically Diagnosed Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder and Mediated by Weak Cognitive Control.” Biological Psychiatry Vol. 63, Issue 3: 325-331.
What happens if we don’t change? Figure from Atkinson and Wial, “Boosting Productivity, Innovation, and Growth through a National Innovation Foundation,” Brookings Policy Brief available at http://www.brookings.edu/reports/2008/04_federal_role_atkinson_wial.aspx
Most of us have implicit (unconscious) biases that can impact our behavior and understanding
We are complex, conflicted internally, and our biases can be activated (+ or -) without consciously recognizing it
We need to talk about race in ways that are not divisive
Talking about race … productively UNPRODUCTIVE PRODUCTIVE Frameworks Institute Message Brief: Framing Race Don’t frame issues around “what’s fair” Reinforce the belief of opportunity for all Assert that system flaws hurt everyone Don’t focus on who or what is responsible for present inequities Steer the conversation toward the results being sought (i.e., a quality education for everyone) Don’t focus on exceptional individuals Talk about where systems we all rely upon break down and how we can fix those systems